Thursday, February 12, 2004

Mmmm, beer.

Yesterday, I attended the 14th Battersea Beer Festival, on Lavender Hill in South London, organised by the local branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), a several decades old organisation devoted to promoting the production and consumption of traditional English cask conditioned beer, or real ale. Regular readers of this blog know that I have been known to enjoy a real ale or two, so I thought it might be a pleasant way to spend an evening. And my thought was pretty easily confirmed. I got there at about a quarter to five, as the admission fee was cheaper before 5pm. At that point, most of the people there were stereotypical real ale drinkers: a certain type of slightly overweight Englishman with too much facial hair comes to mind. (Such people are in my experience almost invariably really nice people). There were clear instructions as to what to do at a beer festival after an ale or six.

I mean, who hasn't made that mistake at some point?

Helpfully, they had colour coding. Yellow for bitter, blue for mild, and a sort of pinky boney colour for stout and porter. I actually really enjoy a good porter, so I tried a number of these.

I can actually think of worse jobs than this, but many of the people behind the bar were too busy serving beer (and occasionally drinking it) to actually talk about beer. Sad, that.

That is a lot of beer.

Jenny Jones, the deputy mayor of London, did actually show up, and made a little speech declaring the festival open, telling us not to drink and drive, and hoping that we were all enjoying ourselves. Not much attention was paid. People were too busy enjoying themselves.

As well as a wide selection of real ales, there was also a cider counter, and a "Foreign beer bar", which had a wide selection of both Belgian and German beers both bottled and on tap. I found myself gravitating towards this and spent quite a bit of time there.

Somehow I found I was enjoying the Belgian and German beers better than the English ones. Someone suggested I try an interesting German smoked beer, which was indeed interesting. I also made the mistake of trying a malty Belgian Trappist beer that was 11% alcohol.

Either I was enjoing a change due to the fact that I mostly drink English beer and I drink Belgian and German beer only occasionally, or there is a terrible fact I have to admit.

Much as I love English beer (and really I do) I think I have to acknowledge that the two greatest beer making countries in the world are Germany and Belgium.

No comments:

Blog Archive